Do Epilators Cause Ingrown Hair?

We investigate.

A person using an epilator to shave their leg
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Can using an epilator cause you ingrown hairs? For those who do not know exactly what this tool is, we'll bring you up to speed. In the '80s, a brand called Epilady made the electric device that used coils removed hair from the root at home famous. They still have their classic model using coils, but now also carry many different kinds that use coils or tweezers, and have multiple sizes for the face and body. Their creation has branched out into a whole industry, so now there are plenty of epilator brands to choose from, like Emjoi and Braun and Remington.

Ingrown hair, or hair that grows back into the skin, can be caused by any form of hair removal. Still, it tends to be a bit more common when using epilators. That being said, there are precautions you to take before and after removing hair (so you don't have to put your device in the drawer permanently). But wait! Don't dismiss your epilator, because it can be one of your biggest grooming assets and save you money in the long run. Epilation at home is one of the easiest ways to uplift the hair out of the follicle, leaving you with weeks of hair free skin.

Naturally, you should initially make sure the epilator is in good condition. If you've dropped it and not taken care of it, then chances are it will cause ingrown hair. If anything is tweaked off-course even a little bit, you might have some problems. For example, if the tweezers are bent it may not grasp the hair properly or at the correct angle, and that can cause breakage above or below the skin, potentially causing ingrown hair. And make sure that your epilator is perfectly clean every time before using. Follow the manufacturers' directions for exactly how to clean the device, because bacteria can easily enter undetected. Keep in mind anytime you remove hair out of the follicle, you may be leaving it an easy target for bacteria to enter. Cleaning your unit regularly will help keep bacteria at bay; thus helping prevent ingrown hair and irritation. Also, store it in a case—bacteria will get all over it if you're just leaving it on a tabletop somewhere.

Practice does make perfect. The more you use the epilator, you can get the correct position so it becomes a muscle memory when using the unit. Start by holding your skin taut. If your skin is held firm while working the device, you'll be more likely to remove the entire piece of hair from the follicle, and not just break it above or below the skin, potentially leading to ingrown hairs.

Take care of yourself post-epilation too. Using a skin toner after epilating might also aid in preventing ingrown hair. Witch hazel is a great, affordable toner that fights bacteria and soothes skin. If you have sensitive or dry skin, make sure to opt for an alcohol-free product. You should also be exfoliating regularly. It gets dead skin cells away from the follicle and may help keep hairs pointing up, growing in the correct direction. If the skin isn't inflamed or infected, you should be exfoliating a couple times of week (one to three, depending on skin type). A nice body scrub can feel life-changing.

Which Epilators Work for Me

The Braun Silk-Epil, $121, and the Panasonic ES-ED90-P, $81, are both great epilators. You want one that's cordless so there's no need to worry about cords getting in the way or having only so far of a reach. It also makes them easy to take with you on the go. Again, though, practice makes perfect—so give them a chance and learn what works for you.

Article Sources
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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Ingrown hair. Updated February 28, 2018.

  2. Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cellsJ Inflamm (Lond). 2011;8(1):27. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27

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